Obstacle difficulty is a common topic online in the OCR World Championships Athletes Group (why aren’t you part of the group yet?…join here) and in other Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) communities. One of the sub-topics in this is “Should there be different OCR standards for Pro vs. Age Group?” Specifically, I want to talk about this at the championship level.
Pro vs Age Group Obstacle Difficulty
When you toe the line of the Adventurey events (the parent company of OCR World Championships, North American OCR Championships and OCR Enduro World Championships), you are lining up at the best mandatory completion OCRs in the world. To finish on the podium, you need to complete every obstacle as prescribed.
If you fail to complete an obstacle you can retry as many times as you want, but if that doesn’t go well you are going to have to give up your band, signaling you failed to complete an obstacle. With 2018 rule changes this means that whilst you can still finish the course and record your time, you are not ranked with those who finsihed with their band intact. It doesn’t count as a DNF (Did Not Finish), but it does count as a DNC (Did Not Complete), so you can see why it’s so important to athletes to keep their band.
To create a course that is a test for both Pros and Age Group athletes can be challenging. Should the 50+ year old women have to complete the same obstacles at championships that the World Champion Male Jonathan Albon is completing? I say yes and since 2014 Adventurey says yes too.
This is one of the things I love about North American OCR Championships and OCR World Championships.
A finisher band intact at the end of the race means you have finished every obstacle and it is the same for everyone. Nothing* is scaled for gender or age. When you see a 60 year old man, a 16 year old female, a 40 year old journeyman, and a 30 year old pro all holding their wrists in the air, it means the same thing.
If things are scaled will you get higher finisher percentages of some of the Age Groups? Will you get lower finisher percentages in the Pros if things are made harder? Probably yes to both of those, but to me that reduces the value of the band.
You can’t play baseball in the World Series or catch a pass at the Super Bowl. You can’t even show up to Ninja Warrior without having an emotional backstory and a lengthy application process. However, you can run the same course as Lindsay Webster and Jonathan Albon finishing the same obstacles, keeping the same band, and earning the same finisher medal.
With some focused training and qualification, you can race in the OCR World Championships. If you lack the physical capability at this point in your life, you can replace strength with persistence and qualify for the journeyman division. If you go this route, your band is worth the same as all the pros, showing that you completed the obstacles to the same standard.
Join the fun!
Join Adventurey in Sydney, Australia for OCR Enduro World Championships, Vermont; USA for North American OCR Championship; and London, England for OCR World Championships in 2019 and share the course with the best OCR athletes in the world. I hope to see you there.
*The only exception I have ever seen is the double farmers carry sometimes gets turned into a single farmer’s carry to due to quantity of bags between the Pros and Age Groupers. However, I would argue that has no influence on ability to finish all obstacles within the required course cutoff.
Evan Perperis, NSCA-CPT, is an athlete on the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team and author of three books on Obstacle Course Racing. Included in his 39 podium finishes is a 2nd place Pro Coed Team at the 2018 North American OCR Championships and 1st Place Team at 2018 World’s Toughest Mudder. Find more of his content at www.teamstrengthspeed.com.